All I knew about San Francisco before visiting earlier this year was that it’s hilly, Herbie caused mischief, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, it’s foggy and the fog horns mostly from movies and TV shows.
We wanted to get to Baker Beach which has the best photographic views of the bridge around sunset and got thick January fog instead. That didn’t stop people from still visiting the bridge, running or cycling. It perhaps was the best time to visit to hear infamous fog horns. Horns I recognised immediately thanks to countless movies and TV shows. It was oddly comforting to hear them. There’s even a number you can call up to listen to them!
You can’t go to Northern California and not take time out to checkout Redwoods and Sequoias some of Earth’s oldest and tallest trees! On holiday vaccay easier this year to San Francisco, Hawaii and the Big Sur, we wanted to see for ourselves these amazing trees.
Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks were under snow and when P looked to see how far Hawaii was from California, Hawaii won. Luckily just north of San Francisco is Muir Woods and Muir Woods National Monument, a National Park filled with Coast Redwoods and Giant Sequoias.
Most of the photos are noisy with ISO as it was my first time shooting in such light. I wasn’t sure of the levels shutter speed or aperture so please excuse the noise and look of some photos. As usual I’m a bad editor cutting down photos.
If driving there you have to book up in advance the parking ticket. No advance ticket, no entry. About 1-2km from the park are signs reminding you last chance to book up before as there’s no mobile or wifi coverage once in the park. Parking is $8.50, entrance $15 per person. Under 15’s free. A shuttle bus is available from near by towns.
The main show is the monument, a mostly boarded loop trail in the thickest darkest part of the forest. Redwoods are the stars here. I wanted to do the Panoramic Trail (once the ocean view walk before the trees grew blocking the vista) however time was an issue before the park closed. A ranger recommend the Canopy trail, a 4.8km/3mi approx 2 hours hike that connects with Lost Trail and and part of Fern Creek trail looping back to the entrance. He mentioned it’s great for lefties. Being mixed handed I loved the trial until it looped back in favour of righties. The path flowed. We got there around midday on a Sunday with the trial already getting busy. If you want peace and quiet, no human voices go early. It was so obvious we were the tourists in our winter coats while the locals were in t-shirts and tank tops. No way was it warm enough! It was the same temps as back in Barcelona and everybody there was in winter coats.
We stopped by after visiting Muir Woods National Monument earlier this year on our holiday vaccay to Northern California and Hawaii, Muir Beach. A cove, lagoon and beach that’s nestled along the coast by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Mount Tamalpais State Park. Though it was January it was still busy when we got there near sunset with a switch from the day beach goers to the dusk beach goers.
We didn’t stop long, only exploring the beach not the beach overlook as we wanted to look around Sausalito before it got dark. It was enough time for me to understand the magic of California beaches. All beaches have their charm. Maybe it’s the hype, maybe it’s because California is known for its beach life, maybe because it was my first California beach, maybe it was the mid winter light. Either way I can see why California beaches and the sea ocean draw people under their spell.
It’s amazing the things you notice travelling outside your natural habitat. One thing that stood out for me on holiday earlier this year in California was the information signs.
Signs I’d seen a million times in photos and on TV in a pinch me moment I’m seeing in person. Universal information signs that need no words, but sometimes leave you guessing optical illusions or alternate different meanings. The for real am I here info signs? Or anywhere in the USA if you live outside of the USA. The psychology behind them. Knowing most people look down or only a little ahead walking. The grammar’s different too. I find the USA English uses a more formal language with signs than UK English making them seem at times a little old fashioned and proper.
One of my favourite signs that caught my eye were No Dumping signs next to road drains. I’m a sucker for animal designs so of course I noticed these. I think every town has a different design. I didn’t get all train spotting looking out for them. Just when I came across them.
Our first day of our California, Oahu holiday vacay was spent in San Francisco! We stayed outside of San Francisco at the Hyatt House Belmont/Redwood Shores residential hotel in Belmont purely for the reason they had a gym and kitchen. We tend to stay if possible self catering as it saves money, allows more time to explore not being tied to finding vegan restaurants, check out supermarkets and we get to have breakfast of our choice. The gym because P knew I’d go crazy if I just did hotel room workouts for 2 weeks. His ears would hurt.
Another reason why we stayed outside was after calculating Uber costs it was cheaper to hire a car which worked in our favour over the next few days. P reserved parking ahead and there was a little culture shock driving to the parking. He picked one of cheaper carparks which was I think in the one of the roughest inner city neighbourhoods. He didn’t know! Neither of us did! $25 all day parking. Others were $35 plus. Lots of homeless people (there are homeless people in Barcelona but not to the extent of San Francisco. This was a whole other level of homelessness) lining the sidewalks, a lot high. I think it was the open drug use and it’s affect that was the eye opener. It was hard not to stare which I knew was the one thing I shouldn’t be doing. While I was curious how they ended up homeless, I got a feeling most were looking out for each other as tents lined the sidewalks. Yes, it made me uncomfortable and at the same time I felt safe. There I said it. The parking turned out to be only a few blocks away from the centre or downtown San Fransisco. Google Maps you know everything!